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St. Teresa Benedicta of the Cross (Edith Stein, 1891 – 1942)
She was a brilliant scholar, a contemplative mystic, and a “liberated” feminist. At various times she was also a devout Jew, an atheist, a philosopher, a Catholic, and a Carmelite nun. Hers was a heart that hungered for truth, with a passion that burned with such purity and clarity that Pope John Paul II, whose own Mulieris Dignitatem and “Letter to Women” bear the unmistakable imprint of her spirit, canonized her less than fifty years after her death at Auschwitz.
Next month the Catholic galaxy will become a little brighter as the Church receives a new cluster of saints. Among the holy handful will be just one woman, a French Carmelite considered by Pope Saint John Paul II to be one the most influential mystics of his life.
Blessed Elizabeth of the Trinity was born as Elizabeth Catez, “Sabeth” to her friends, in 1880. She was a hot-tempered child with sometimes “furious eyes” whose father died while she was young, forcing her mother to move Sabeth and her younger sister from their home in Dijon to a smaller second-story flat. From her window, little Sabeth could look down into the garden of the Carmelite convent.
Our professor asked us to write our final paper on our own journey on this mystical mountain. He challenged us to reflect on how we could embrace the self-renunciation necessary to climb closer to the summit. After a few days of mulling this over mounds of laundry and miles of carpooling, here is what I came up with:
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